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Checking out the future of

our shopping experience

The checkout experience is frequently a frustration for retail customers in traditional bricks-and-mortar stores. So what exactly can be done to ease the process and give shoppers a better feeling all round? When visionaries meet luminaries, new possibilities open up.
Online businesses and discounters are experiencing impressive growth, which has inevitably led to pressure on regular stores on main street.

“People are used to receiving digital services through various platforms,” observes Nadim Ghafoor, Business Development Director of Zebra Technologies – a leading technology, information and insight company. “We click and all this content is delivered to us.”

 

One key frustration for shoppers when they visit traditional stores is the checkout. According to research, some 35% say their expedition would improve if the whole payment process was easier. That troublesome line is the most stubborn of problems, which is why so many retailers have become interested in self-service scanning devices. In 2017, these scanners are able to connect directly to digital services.


“It’s about delivering a better service to shoppers,” argues Ghafoor, who can see the system helping to eliminate the process of waiting in line to pay. “I don’t call this a queue buster,” he says. “It basically eliminates the queue.”

Philips Lighting and Zebra technologies discuss richer customer experiences smart retail lighting
The key to the revolution is connected LED technology, pioneered by Philips Lighting. The company’s Senior Marketing Director for Food and Large Retail, Gonneke Gros, talks about the need to provide a ‘seamless’ experience for the modern shopper. “We now live in an omnichannel world,” she observes, “and we expect everything to be personalized. When we shop online, the grocery store knows our past history of purchases and uses this to makes things easier. We expect the same level of service in the brick-and-mortar store.”

People are used to receiving digital services through various platforms. We click and all this content is delivered to us.”

 

Nadim Ghafoor,
Business Development Director, Zebra Technologies

Plan, connect, engage, transact
According to Ghafoor, it’s important to think of the customer journey as starting before they arrive in the store. Perhaps when they draw up their list.

“Shopping lists have been around for a long time,” he says. “Where the list comes to life is when you come to the store. Technology enables it to become practical and meaningful.”

 

As you move around a shopping environment, items can be checked off from your list. And the order of that list can change depending on where you are located, thanks to Philips indoor positioning. It’s part of a strategy which plans ahead, connects and engages the customer and ultimately drives transactions. But retailers can create far more efficient systems for their staff­members too.


“If a less experienced staff­member is replenishing the shelves and using the Zebra device, they can be shown on an app exactly how the refilled stock should look on display,” she says. “And when customers order from their couch at home and then pick up the items in store, the software can optimize the route for the staff making the selection.”

hand held scanner improving in store experience

If a less experienced staff member is replenishing the shelves and using the Zebra device, they can be shown on an app exactly how the refilled stock should look on display.”

 

Gonneke Gros,
Senior Marketing Director for Food & Large Retail, Philips Lighting

Linked with others in store
Further possibilities with the technology, says Ghafoor, include the ability to let other people know you are in the store, connecting shoppers with one another and creating a more engaging, social experience.

Gros agrees that interaction is a vital part of the equation when it comes to bricks-and-mortar retailers competing with online. “At Philips Lighting, we talk to millennials, who are obviously very tech-savvy and internet connected. But they are still human beings and want to interact with other people,” she says.

 

And what about recipes created by celebrity chefs and promoted on TV programs? Ghafoor observes they have created a lot of excitement with consumers. Even a show such as the popular BBC period drama Poldark has created a buzz around the food, inspiring recipe books. “Everyone is taking pictures of meals,” he says. “We want to create that inspiration in the store.” The idea is that when a food item is scanned, or when you’re in front of the item, the shopper can be sent instant recipe suggestions. In this way, retailers become part of the whole process of helping us shop and preparing a meal.


Offers and promotions are part of the story too of course, with increasingly sophisticated segmentation. Loyalty cards mean that we should receive offers that are particularly relevant to us, based on our previous shopping experience. We’re used to these techniques being used online, but can they be replicated in the supermarket aisle? “That journey is just starting,” says Ghafoor.

At Philips Lighting, we talk to millennials, who are obviously very tech-savvy and internet connected.

At Philips Lighting, we talk to millennials, who are obviously very tech-savvy and internet connected.

 

But they are still human beings and want to interact with other people,” observes Gros.

Promotions are part of the story too of course, with increasingly sophisticated segmentation.

Promotions are part of the story too of course, with increasingly sophisticated segmentation.

 

Loyalty cards mean that we should receive offers that are particularly relevant to us, based on our previous shopping experience.

What about that checkout experience itself?

 

And as for that checkout experience itself, there are various models for improving it. In France, one retailer is allowing customers to select items on their device and then pick them up via a drive-through. It’s effectively ‘click and collect’, but it’s happening in store.

In Denmark, we have seen the smartphone becoming the scanning device. Of course, customers do need a compelling reason to download the app and use it in the store. But if they can be persuaded, we know it’s also possible for them to pay via their phone – a phenomenon we see all around us now, including on mass transit systems such as the London Underground. It’s easy enough for an app to deliver a barcode you can scan as you leave a supermarket. “Retailers are all talking about the potential of the technology,” says Ghafoor. “I believe this is going to be the next transformation.”

The collaboration between Zebra and Philips Lighting is a win-win-win, not only do we benefit from each other’s technology, but retailers are able to work more efficiently and shoppers get the seamless experience they want.”

 

Gonneke Gros,
Senior Marketing Director for Food & Large Retail, Philips Lighting

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